The Taney Dragons Speak!
PM: Could any of you have predicted you’d go to the World Series?
Jared Sprague-Lott: I knew we had the talent, but if you run into one really good team that’s better than you are … so … not really.
PM: When did you start to think you had a chance?
Joe Richardson: When we won states. Collier [from Allegheny County] was the hardest team by far.
Erik Lipson: [banging a plastic soda bottle] I’d like to answer that question. Okay … what was the question? [laughter]
PM: What was it like when you first saw the Little League World Series stadium in Williamsport?
Jahli Hendricks: When we first got there, it didn’t feel like we were there yet. We didn’t really feel like we were in Williamsport until the end, when we had to leave. That’s when it meant the most to us.
PM: What were you doing when you weren’t playing games?
Eli Simon: Motorcycle game.
Kai Cummings: Signing autographs.
PM: You signed a lot of autographs. Is it weird to be famous?
Kai: It doesn’t really feel like we’re famous.
Joe: People don’t really recognize us unless we’re wearing our uniforms or we’re at school.
Eli: Or Mo’ne. Everybody recognizes Mo’ne.
PM: Who are some of the famous people you guys have heard from?
Kai: We met Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
PM: Did they give you any advice?
Eli: Chase Utley had really hairy arms. [laughter]
Kai: And bony fingers.
Tai Shanahan: Ryan Howard talked about how he really had to devote himself to baseball to become such a great player. And if he didn’t have that sense of “I can be a great baseball player,” then he wouldn’t have been as good as he actually was.
PM: The city threw a parade for you. Was that cool?
Jahli: I got hit by a Jolly Rancher.
Kai: Some girl put her phone number on a baseball and threw it to Carter. Jack [Rice, their teammate] took it and threw it back.
Carter Davis: She was, like, 26.
PM: Were you sad when you lost the last game?
Jared: I was sad ’cause it was the last time we were all going to play together.
Tai: I was upset because the season was over … and, like, we went so far.
Joe: But we get to say we were the third-best team in the country.
Eli: The world!
PM: Who’s the fastest on the team?
Group: [pointing at Kai] Him!
PM: Who’s the strongest?
Zion Spearman: And I’m the fastest person besides Kai.
PM: What’s your advice for teams in the World Series?
Joe: I have a warning about autographs: If you stop for one, you have to sign, like, 200.
Kai: Another thing. You’ll be approached by a lot of people. Always, always, always sign autographs for little kids. Adults are different, but little kids might never get this experience again.
Eli: Also, treasure your moments there. Don’t waste it. Don’t just sit in your room all day and play Xbox.
Erik: I have something to say: [dramatically] Do not go in the bathroom with me in there and the lights off.
Group: He hisses!
Erik: Hssssss …
Originally published in the November 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.